General Learning Objectives
- Pupils get to know the work of Vincent van Gogh.
- Pupils combine elements from various Japanese prints in a new work of their own.
- Content of lesson and watching video: c. 20 minutes.
- Practical exercise: c. 20 minutes, depending on material chosen.
- Decide what materials to work with (see “materials required” and “alternatives”) and lay them out before beginning the lesson.
- Computer, iPad or mobile phone with sound.
- Thick A3 drawing paper
- Pencils, erasers and rulers
- Dip pens and Indian ink, or fineliners
- Colouring pencils or felt pens
1. Use oil pastels and poster paint or acrylic (with thin brushes) instead of colouring pencils or felt pens. Don’t use fineliners for the line work if painting.
2. Lay the emphasis on the “composition” of new work from parts of various examples and ask the children to make a collage with scissors, glue and old magazines.
3. Ask the pupils to combine other examples from art history, from a single artist or a mix of several.
Vincent van Gogh admired the lines, colour planes and cropping used by Japanese artists in their figurative work, landscapes and city views. They were different from the European art he was used to, and from anything he had made himself. Vincent studied Japanese prints and then made his own versions of them. He did this very carefully, using, for example, the grid method to scale the images up onto canvas. (For more on this, see the lesson Vincent XL.)
Ask the pupils to study the picture closely for as long as the music plays (34 secs). They must not say anything yet. Then go to slide 2 for the quiz question.
Note the answers. You can use the pencil function to write them on the interactive whiteboard. Also point out the border Vincent made on his painting, and explain that he used other examples for this.
Repeat that along with this magazine, Vincent therefore had other examples too. Then click on the hotspot top left for the quote.
If the class doesn’t yet know Theo, he was Vincent’s younger brother, who he lived with for a time in Paris. Theo (hotspot bottom right) supported Vincent (financially), so that he could concentrate on his art.
Tell: Here are two of the prints. Vincent used examples from these in the painting too. Can the pupils tell which elements he used?
- New print of insects and small creatures (Utagawa Yoshimaru, 1883)
- Geishas in a landscape (1870 - 1880)
Watch the video (c. 2 minutes).
Using this slide, give a rough explanation of the layout of Japanese prints: a central field with a border around it, with or without calligraphic characters. The hotspot on the right shows the layout. The hotspot on the left suggests translating your own text to Japanese with a translation app.
Hand out the examples; use the pictures in this slide, or show examples from the Van Gogh Museum (link) on the interactive whiteboard.
Look at the end results together at the end of the lesson. Was it difficult or not at all? Are the pupils happy with their creations? (And what do their “Japanese characters” mean?) Finally, hang up the work in a prominent place in the classroom or elsewhere in the school.
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